Making your book into an audio book

If you are a writer then you are a reader. It’s what we do. Or at least, it’s what we should do. Reading keeps a writer sharp. I have discovered more than a few new words and phrases that I know I can use in my own writing. What? You don’t know all the words in the English language, Shawn? You mean to tell me that you read in order to “steal” another writer’s words and phrases? You can’t dream up your own? You flat out copy other writers?

Hell ya! Words and phrases are the building blocks of story. And we are storytellers first and foremost, aren’t we? Some people use the term wordsmith. But that doesn’t mean we “make” the words we use. We “learn” the words we use. And the best way to learn words is to read. So if I come across an author who uses a word I haven’t used before or a combination of words I find amazing, you can be sure I will acquire them. Anyone who claims otherwise is flat out lying.

That said, there is such a thing as plagiarism, and, of course, I am absolutely against plagiarism. Plagiarism is copying another writer’s work. That’s bad. Don’t do this. But “stealing” a word or using a phrase that another writer has used to glorious effect is exactly why we read!

Okay, I started writing this blog post with the desire to write about audio books, and though the first  three paragraphs seem to be about anything but audio books, I assure you that there is a tie in here.

I began this blog as a way to share my thoughts and knowledge about self-publishing. We self-published writers have to do everything for ourselves. From writing the book, to hiring an editor and cover artist to marketing and distribution, it’s all up to us. Making your book into an audio book is no exception. If you have an insane desire to do ALL things yourself, you may be tempted to try and read your own book into a $20 microphone from Staples that you hooked to your laptop. Like plagiarism, that’s bad. Don’t do this. We are writers, not actors with voice skills. Audio book listeners, like book readers, are easily turned off by bad art. Bad writing = lost reader. Bad voice skills = lost listener. Instead, you need to hire someone to read your book for you. Trust me on this. No matter how good you think you sound, you need to hire a professional.

Thankfully there is ACX! ACX is a subsidiary of Amazon and is a marketplace where you can listen to various voice actors and hire one to read your book. Visit AXC.com to see for yourself. They make it extremely easy to get started. But before you do, I highly recommend that you do one very important thing first. Okay, so here’s the tie in I promised you. You must listen to a number of audio books first, preferably in your genre. Why? Because listening to audio books is where you will learn what makes a good audio book. It is akin to reading if you are a writer. Reading is where a writer learns what makes a good written book. It is where we learn those incredible words and phrases that we will use to build our work. Likewise, listening to audio books before you make one is crucial. You should be asking yourself a few questions as you listen. Do I want a voice talent who can dramatize my book? And if so, how dramatic do I want it to be? Do I envision a woman or a man reading my book? Do I want the voice talent to have an accent? Does the voice match the genre or age level of the material? By listening to audio books in your genre you will get a feel for what make one better than another and apply that to your own audio book endeavor. Just like we do when we read.

After listening to a fair share of audio books in my particular genre, young adult fantasy, I chose the uber-talented Jus Sargeant from England to read my book. Here is a link to Chapter One: CLICK HERE

Shawn P Cormier

Author of Nomadin

My Website: www.pineviewpress.com

What is your potential?

I have thought long and hard as to what it is I am good at. Currently, I am a third generation jeweler. I serve the people of my small home town by fixing their beloved pieces of jewelry such as engagement rings, mother’s rings and family heirlooms. I also provide the newest generations of their families with their very own precious pieces of jewelry that invoke fond memories, marking special times in their lives such as weddings, births and yes, even deaths.  I can tell you withing 3 seconds just by looking at it, whether the chain you are wearing is solid gold or just plated with gold. I can easily and matter-of-factly determine what gemstone your great grand-mother’s ring is set with, and whether the gem in your wife’s ring is a genuine diamond or a fake. I can tell you if you paid too much for your jewelry, if it’s going to last you three months, a year or a lifetime, and when that family heirloom was made – all with a glance. I’ve been doing what learned jewelers do for over twenty years, and I take my work very seriously. I enjoy carrying the torch that my grandfather ignited 65 years ago. It is an honor and a privilege to do what I do. But I often wonder if I am living up to my potential.

Boy, that sounds pretentious, doesn’t it? How can I even wonder such a thing after gushing about how proud I am to do what I currently do?

Here’s the thing. At heart, I am a writer. Since the age of twelve I have dreamed about making my living as a writer, where I can wake up in the morning and the only thing on my mind will be how can I connect with readers today, and the last thing I think about at night is the next chapter to come. Isn’t that what you want for your life? Isn’t that the Grand Goal? As writers, I think we all feel that whatever we are doing to earn a paycheck at this very moment that is not writing for a living is a cop out, that somehow we should be “living up to our potential” as writer and by now should be published and earning our keep as writers. Isn’t there more than a bit of truth in that?

But alas, let me pop my own bubble. I have spoken to several published authors who make their living as writers first and foremost. And I have heard from more than one (all in fact) that I shouldn’t be too eager to throw away my good day job. Seems that writing for a living adds a type of pressure to your writing that isn’t yet present when you are still trying to “make it”. Seems that most writers who make a living by writing, who have moved from working a day job while writing to writing as a day job for their work, miss the steady (and often larger) income that a day job provides. How many books do you have to sell to make 30 or 40 or 50 thousand dollars a year, every year, as most day-jobbers make? The answer is a lot! Most writers who are living the “dream” are not best selling authors. They are working extremely hard and writing madly to meet deadlines and please publishers and sell enough books and article to keep up with their standard of living (which if they are smart is not extravagant) . Many ghost write and line edit and (gulp) work a little part time job on the side. Does that sound like a “dream” to you? To many it sounds like a nightmare. In fact, many of your family members will try to talk you out of being a writer because of these truths. They will say, “The odds of you becoming a published author are minuscule, Shawn. And even if you become a published author, the odds of you becoming a best selling author are even smaller, Shawn. Money is important, Shawn. Give up this pipe dream. Live in the real world, Shawn. Live up to your true potential!” Okay, they won’t use my name when saying these things to you. But you get the gist. The sad truth is that the naysayers are right. Other writers who are living our dream even corroborate their “findings”. So what’s the damn point of all this!! Why even try?

The point is that living up to our potential means living up to “our” potential. This is “our” life, not theirs, not anyone else’s. So if you have that day job, whether it’s flipping burgers, teaching tennis, being a jeweler or even a brain surgeon, and you are making 20, 30, 50 or 200 thousand dollars a year, it’s okay to ask, “Am I living up to my potential?” Don’t let anyone make you feel that it’s not. We do not write to be rich. We write because that is what we feel we were born to do. It is part of “our potential”.

So keep asking and keep writing!

Shawn P Cormier

Author of Nomadin

www.pineviewpress.com

Shamelessly Plug Your Book

This post and its title speak for themselves. Always plug your book whenever and wherever you can. So here is my plug! If you would like to shamelessly plug your book here, please feel free to leave a shameless plug for your book or books as a comment to this post for all to see. Exposure is key!

 

Thirteen-year-old Ilien Woodhill can’t remember who he is. But when he does, all Hell will break loose.

Ilien has lived the sheltered life of a normal boy from a small nowhere town. His biggest worry is the pair of bullies who wage a relentless battle to break his spirit. But all that soon changes when the old man, Gallund, comes to stay at the house. Gallund is a wandering professor of language, but the nouns, verbs, and adjectives he teaches can do much more than hurt someone’s feelings. They can kill.

But Ilien knows nothing of Gallund’s heritage, of the dark tales told around late-night fires concerning the legendary Nomadin wizards and the prophesy that dooms them to extinction. He’ll soon learn more than Gallund will teach him. A shadow touches the peaceful land of Nadae. An ancient evil is stirring. Already a NiDemon has crossed from the land of the dead. It seeks the forbidden child of Nomadin wizards, forbidden because the child is foretold to free the dreaded Necromancer from his prison to destroy all creation. Now Ilien must run – from a monster of unimaginable cunning and power toward a fate far more frightening than that which hunts him. But he cannot run forever. Eventually he will have to make a stand. Soon or later he will have to face what the legendary Nomadin fear most . . . Himself.

BUY IT HERE: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/20783

BUY IT FROM AMAZON: CLICK HERE

Why do you write?

Why do you write? It’s a simple question that we can easily lose sight of as we travel the publishing path. Why is it that we often neglect watching TV, going out with friends, yard work, hitting the gym, sleeping in, going to bed early and the myriad other things normal people do during the course of their day so that we can sit alone in a quiet room and push our thoughts out onto paper or a computer screen? What drives us? If you are a writer, and my hunch is that you are or you’d be doing one of those myriad things listed above instead of reading this Blog, then you know what drives you. Our personal motivations to write vary. My driving force is my fascination with the power of story to change our lives, and my love of words. Whatever yours may be, it’s important, nay imperative, that you not lose sight of it.

If you are a writer trying to get your work published, then it’s very possible that you already have lost sight of why you write. How do you know when you’ve lost sight of it? Here are the nasty symptoms to watch out for. Number one: You’ve written more drafts of your query letter and synopsis than you have of your latest work. Number two: You’ve spent more time reading form-rejection letters from agents than reading your latest edit.  Number three: Your daydreams lately have been more about being discovered than discovering new ideas for your next book.

It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important, namely the writing, when we are trying to get past the Gatekeepers. Attempting to get our novel in the hands of publishers can be all-consuming, frustrating and downright depressing. Why doesn’t anyone like our work? Why can’t they see the genius in it like I do? Why do they keep rejecting my book and keep publishing the crap that they do? Why? Why? Why? It’s all too easy to become obsessed with what we assume is the end-goal of our life’s work – to get published. But we all know deep inside as writers that the end-goal in not to get published. It’s to write. Period.

I will make a bold statement now: That first time you put pen to paper and felt that rush of excitement and satisfaction when you created your first little story or part of a story or great sentence, the word “agent” or “publisher” never crossed your mind. It was all about the work. It was all about the power of creation. And later, when you grew up and sat down and finished your very first book-length piece and felt that rush of excitement and satisfaction return to you from out of your childhood, the words “agent” and “publisher” whispered in your mind, didn’t they? And finally, now, today even, you may have spent the last several hours writing and editing draft after draft of your one page, concise query letter consisting of your “hook” and “mini-synopsis” and “author bio”, which by the way is the most anti-creative, mind-numbing party-killer exercise any writer can do, no matter what they say, and that excitement and satisfaction from your days or writing innocence are no longer inside you, are they? The “publishing process” has ever-so-slowly killed them. Haven’t they? For all of you young writers out there, please don’t let this happen. But if it has happened, there is something you can do about it.

So how can we avoid this writing cataclysm? By being very organized. The fact is that the “publishing process” is a necessary evil if we want anyone other than our best friend or spouse to read our work. And we do. But it shouldn’t take over our writing life. I’ve found that by simply assigning only one set day as my day to “chase the dream”, I can avoid getting sucked into the “publishing process”. Giving yourself one set day a week frees your creative mind to pursue that which matters most the rest of the week- the writing. It also satisfies the right side of our brain, that analytical part that is so needed as we deal with agents, queries, the synopsis, form letter writing and rejection. Try it out. And when I say “only one day a week”, I mean “only one day a week”. No cheating. It’s okay to check your email for that form rejection letter from the latest agent you queried, but refrain from firing off another one until your “set day”. In the meantime, keep writing and creating and who knows, that form rejection might one day be a “helpful” rejection! Or one day even a “yes!”

Shawn P Cormier

Author of Nomadin

My website: www.pineviewpress.com

Creative Ways to Sell Your Book – or Selling in a Psych Ward!

Let’s say you’ve tried your darndest to get your foot into every bookstore in your area, in fact, in a fifty mile radius, but you’ve had no success. The gatekeepers have won. Is your book doomed to grace only YOUR bookshelf? Don’t lose heart. You can sell more books outside your local, or chain, bookstore by thinking outside the box. Let me give you some examples of where you can sell loads of books without ever stepping foot inside “the Gate”.

Anywhere where there are people, and I mean anywhere, is a good place to sell your books. Wait! Do you mean to tell me, Mr. Cormier, that I can sell books on the street, outside of church or inside a grocery store? You’re telling me that I can literally sell my book at the beach, a restaurant? Even in the Psych Unit of a Hospital? The answer, my friends, is not blowing in the wind, it is a definite YES! Need proof? I have done most of those things. HOLD ON, MR. CORMIER! You’ve sold your books inside a Psychiatric Unit of a hospital? I did. And to date it was my most successful outing yet!

Let me explain further. Have you ever left your local walmart, or grocery store, and been accosted by a person selling baked goods or candy or hand-knit potholders? What did you do? Maybe you walked the other way and tried to ignore them. But perhaps you ponied up a few bucks to buy their goods because the seller was there to support a charity such as a local church, Breast Cancer, the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or a school function. In fact, if you did buy that hand made potholder you might have felt a little warm fuzzy knowing some of the money was going to a good cause. It’s an anti-consumerism, “finally I am spending my money not just to get something for myself but to give back to society”, thing. It works. It’s a win-win. You feel good, the charity earns money. You can do the very same thing with your books.

You might now be thinking, “Wow, this guy has sunk pretty low just to sell his books. He’s actully telling me to find a charity, arrange to donate to them via selling my books somewhere, find a grocery store or Walmart or insane asylum, and ask them if I can set up shop to sell my book about “who killed the senator who was screwing around with the President’s lover”, and plant myself outside, or inside, and sell sell sell. What a LOSER!”

Yes, that’s what I am telling you. If you approach the organizer of a charity, whether it’s theMDA, Boy Scouts, the local elderly center or what-have-you, you CAN arrange to donate proceeds to them via selling your book, and they WILL be eager to accept your donation, and they WILL give you their blessing on their letterhead (the letterhead is critical) to do so, and you CAN approach one of the vendors we have mentioned and show them that letterhead, and they WILL allow you to sit outside their facility and sell your books, and people WILL buy them knowing you are donating to the cause you are representing, and you MUST donate a portion of the proceeds to the charity, and the local newspaper WILL write a small blurb (preferably beforehand because you alerted them to what you are doing) about you selling your books at that location to support (enter your prefered charity here). And it WILL be a win-win for everyone.

Now read that last paragraph over to see exactly what you need to do to do this properly. It’s all in there, except for a few tidbits I’ll explain now. After you’ve arranged it with the charity and received their endorsement to donate on their behalf a certain percentage of the proceeds of your sales to their cause, and you’ve shown that letterhead to the manager of the grocery store and recieved their blessing to set up a small table outside (outside the door is best) to sell your books, you must make sure people will notice you. Signage is key. Let them know loud and proudly that you are supporting a cause with the sales of your book and that you are the author. (By the way, here’s where I’ll insert the amount you should donate. Whether you are a self-publisher or a Print on Demand author, you should donate “all profits” to the charity – and make this known. Figure out what that is and make it happen.ALLPROFITS! But that leaves nothing for me! Yikes! True. But you are looking to build readership with this, not make a living. But that means I’ve sat around for three hours and sold my book at cost? Yes, it does. But it also means that your book is now in the hands of 10, 20 or maybe even 30 new readers. If you’ve written a great book, people will tell others. The others may want to buy your book at full price (important here to mention that you should provide them with where they can do so by either inserting a bookmark with that info on it into every book sold, or better yet have that info already in the front material of your book). Also, if you’ve contacted the newpapers beforehand, or even afterwards, the publicity will be a free perk that will more than cover your costs.

Now for those tidbits. This type of selling is still selling. That means you cannot sit there behind your table and wait for people to notice you. The Salvation Army has a bellringer. You need a bellringer, too. That means greeting everyone, catching their attention, talking to them about what you’re doing. Here’s where good signage comes to play. It should tell them what charity you are donating to, that you are the author of the book, that you are signing books for the charity and that all profit goes to them. Then sell, sell, sell. Make up stickers, even if they are hand-made, that says “I support “enter charity here”, or see if the charity has stickers like that. Give each person who buys your book a sticker. Or put that on your bookmark. You will make many new readers.

As for me, I did sell my books inside a Psych Unit of a hospital. I donated the proceed to the hospital, actually it went to the patients. No, the patients did not buy my book, but the nurses and doctors did. I sold 32 books in 2 hours time. 32 books went to new readers! It doesn’t sound like much, but keep in mind that most Bookstore signings for self-published/POD authors net under 20 books sold. It was the strangest day of my life, selling books to the hospital staff while the psych patients milled around me. Unforgetable. But it was a win-win.

If you want to make money as well as new readers, then you might want to consider renting a booth at a fair or bazaar. More on this in the next post.

Keep writing!

Shawn P Cormier

Author of Nomadin

My Website: www.pineviewpress.com

Book Signings – Dos and Donts

Book-signings are every writer’s dream. What could be better than sitting behind a stack of your very own books in a busy book store, signing copies for eager fans who want to know when the sequel is coming out? Book signings are an ideal way to sell books, right? What better place to sell your book than in a store that sells books! People love to meet their favorite authors, right? I mean, it’s a no-brainer!

Not really. Yes, book stores are where many people still go to buy books. Yes, many people love face-time with their favorite authors. But no, a book store will not be your best place to sell your books. It can be a very good place if you do certain things, which I will get to soon, but it will most definitely not be the BEST place. First of all, you have to keep in mind that most people who visit book stores are there to search for a book in a particular genre. They may be there for a non-fiction book, but there are hundreds of topics in non-fiction and your non-fiction book is written about only one. They may be there for a fiction book, but as we all know there are many genres, and people often do not read across many genres. Most people stick with one or two genres. They may be sci-fi fans. They may be romance fans. They may like techno-thrillers or mysteries or fantasy or chick-lit or – well you get the picture. Your book is, or should be, one genre, and though the people visiting the book store on the day of your signing may like a few different genres, the fact is that many people will not be interested in your genre. That’s just the hard truth.

So what is a poor author to do? Assuming you got your foot in the door and actually booked a signing by calling the local events coordinator and pleading your case as a local author, there are two huge things you can do. First, you can tell the manager of the store that you would like to be placed at the front of the store, not in the genre section. If you wrote a romance novel, you do not want to be sitting with a stack of your books in the romance section of the store. You want to be in the front of the store where EVERYONE can see you. Wait! But you just said that most people won’t be interested in my genre, so why should I be at the front of the store where most people, who don’t want my book, will see me. Wouldn’t it be better to be in the genre section where at least those who like my genre can see me? Wouldn’t that increase my odds of selling to my target audience? The answer is a definitive NO. Your odds of selling books will be vastly greater if you sit where everyone can see you. This is because you will be targeting not only your genre, but everyone who knows someone who likes your genre. Also, not everyone who likes your genre is guaranteed to stop in your section of the bookstore. Perhaps they are there for something else entirely. They may like your genre but miss you that day because they stopped in for a gift for someone else.

Targeting everyone is the key. Why? Because people love to buy signed books as gifts. Book-lovers love to give books as gifts, and a signed book is a great gift. They may not like fantasy books, but they may have a nephew or son who does. They may not like romance but perhaps their wife or daughter does. And if they do like your genre, then you are guaranteed to be seen if you sit at the store entrance.

The second thing you need to do is create your own marketing tools. Posters, books holders, stand ups, signs. These things will not be provided by the book store. Provide them yourself and make them eye-catching. Place an easel outside the entrance with a poster of your book cover and a picture of you with an announcement that you are inside signing your book. Do this the day before if you are allowed and let the customers know the time and date of your signing. If not, get there early the day of your signing and do it. This next thing may sound pointless, but believe me it’s not. Get a nice crystal bowl and fill it with individually wrapped candies. Then put a sign that says, “free candy!” or “take one!” People are often nervous about approaching an author at a book store. The bowl of candy is an invitation that will put people at ease about approaching you. Also, remember to make up bookmarks and postcards about your book to give away even if they do not buy your book. On each should be info on where they can buy your book once they leave the store.

Finally, none of this will work well if you sit there like a log. You need to pretend you are the greeter at Walmart. You need to actually greet each person who comes through the door. Make eye contact and say Hello. If they give you any opening, follow up with a short introduction of yourself and why you are there. If you can do this, you are guaranteed to sell books. Being friendly and accessible will draw people to you. Then have that one-line description of your book ready when they ask, and they will ask, what your book is about. If you give them a five minute spiel about what your book is all about, you will lose them. Keep it short. And remember, expect them not to like your genre, so ask them if they know any “mystery” fans, or “fantasy” fans, or whatever genre your book is in. Remind them that it would make a great gift. SELL your book. You must SELL your book.

And finally still, bring a pad of paper and try to get the buyer’s name and address. This will allow you to send a postcard to them when your next book is out!

Shawn P Cormier

Author of Nomadin

My Website: www.pineviewpress.com

Self-promotion

If you want to sell books, you have to self-promote. You cannot self-publish (and here I mean both POD and self-publishing) and sit on your laurels, expecting people to find and buy your book. Believe me, it doesn’t work that way. Just because your book is listed on Amazon.com doesn’t mean anyone will find it, let alone buy it. There are literally over a million books on Amazon. Imagine a bookstore where one million books line the shelves. Now imagine your book smack-dab in the middle of all those books. How could anyone ever find it? The answer is you have to tell them where it is. This is self-promotion.Self-promotion is a broad term, so I will break it down into its many parts, and in the next few posts I will tell you what worked for me and what didn’t, and what I wished I had done. The actions I took to promote me and my book may not work for you and yours, or they may work far better, depending on your geographic area, your book’s genre and your personality. You will see what I mean as I go along.

The first thing I did, and one of the best things I did, was to walk on over to my local newspaper and ask to speak to the reporter responsible for local interest stories. Local interest reporters are tasked with finding local interest stories, and if you live in a small community like I do, the local interest stories are limited and often not that exciting. You and your book and the story of how and why you wrote it ARE exciting. You should have no problem getting an interview, perhaps with a picture of you and your book, in the local paper. Don’t stop there. Branch out and contact the newspapers of surrounding towns as well. If you live in a large city (and here you see why I mentioned geography) you will have a harder time getting in the paper. Nevertheless, try! If you are not comfortable barging in to your local newspaper office, then email them. However you do it, it’s important you do it. That kind of publicity is worth a lot of money. And when you give that interview, make sure that the reporter lists where people can buy your book. You don’t have your book in any bookstores yet? No problem. If you did it right, and I will assume you did, you have a distributor (if you are self-published) or you used a POD company who acts as your distributor. (Again, refer to the many great books on self-publishing or POD companies.) This makes your book available to order from ANY bookstore. So go ahead and list the bookstores in your area and tell the reporter that anyone can BUY your book at those fine stores. Include Barnes and Noble, Borders and any other biggie, too. No, it’s not a lie. Your book CAN be purchased there. You are not saying they stock it, just that they carry it. Make sure you definitely mention your small local bookstores. Why? You will see shortly.

There are a few other key points you will want to cover during the interview. Make sure you can describe your book clearly in as few words as possible. In fact, if you can describe your book in one sentence, then do it. That one sentence has to be powerful, though. It can’t just be, “My book is about a boy who wants to be a wizard despite his upbringing .” That’s not only boring, it’s common. Make your one sentence unique by finding the HOOK in your book. The hook is what makes your book stand out from the million other books out there. So instead of “My book is about a boy who wants to be a wizard despite his upbringing” it could be “My book is about a boy who wants to be a wizard but discovers he may be the Devil instead.” Finding the hook will mean digging deep into the meat of your story. You should have done that already while writing it, but if you didn’t, do it now. What is your story really about? Make it good, then make sure the reporter writes it down.

Another thing you’ll want to mention, especially if you still live in your childhood hometown, are the people who influenced you to write your book. These people could be high school teachers, librarians, family, friends, clergy, anyone really. Mentioning someone, especially a local person, will help promote your book to more people because the people you mention will talk up your book. It’s human nature and it works. Just make sure that they actually DID influence you.

A newspaper article will not only spread the word about your book, it can also help get your foot in the door at local bookstores. Bookstores are businesses and businesses love to know that what they are selling has some publicity behind it already. Going in to a bookstore cold, and by cold I mean without any publicity or buzz about your book, will not make an impression. But if you bring your article in and show them that your book already has some promo behind it, and that their store is mentioned as a place where they can buy it, and that you are not afraid to self-publicize, they will most definitely take a few copies for their shelves. You will also have an easy time getting in for a signing, another great publicity vehicle for your book, which we will cover in our next post.

Let me mention here that bookstores, especially small bookstores that prefer to order books directly from you, will often want them on consignment. That means they will be hesitant to pay you in advance for books. Instead, they will gladly take five copies for their shelves under the stipulation that they will pay you when they sell them, or return them to you if they don’t. That’s standard in the industry. Do not demand that they must pay in advance. Make it easy for your books to grace their shelves. You are at their mercy. They are the gatekeepers. Go with it, but keep good records.

Keep writing!

Shawn P Cormier

Author of Nomadin

My Website:  www.pineviewpress.com

Want to Sell Lots of Books? First Things First!

So you’ve made your decision. You either chose the Print on Demand route and are now set up on the company website so people can order your book, or you chose the Self-Publishing avenue and are now the proud owner of 500 to 1000 books, delivered in boxes of 30 books each to your chosen destination. Congratulations are in order! It’s time to celebrate! You did it!

After most of your friends and family have stepped up and purchased a copy (if you can actually get them to BUY one, often they expect FREE copies) it is now time to get to work promoting and selling your book. For months, perhaps years, your head has been filled with dreams of your book selling so fast that not only are you making money, you get noticed by the publishing world who scramble to sign you to a publishing contract. But now that you have your book in hand, beautifully bound and smelling crisp and clean like a bookstore aisle, you wonder just how you’re going to make that dream come true. I’m here to tell you that you CAN make that dream come true, but first you need to get your head out of the clouds. You have some work ahead of you.

Here are the facts. Of all the books published by the big publishing houses, eighty percent of them never make much money. How is that possible? The answer to that question is another blog post in itself, but believe me it’s true. If the big guys, with all their knowledge, experience and money can’t sell their books, how can you? Well, you can and you will if you commit to putting in the time and effort to do the things most big publishers can’t and won’t do. Now that those encouraging words are out of the way, let me give you another fact.

Of all the self-published and Print on Demand books out there, it is my opinion, and only my opinion as there are no hard numbers to go by, that fully ninety-nine percent of them will never sell more than 100 copies and will never earn back the costs associated with producing the book. What?! If other people like you can’t sell their books, then how will you? Are you doomed from the start? Please don’t get me wrong and throw in the towel when I say this, but YES, you are doomed from the start.

What I mean by “doomed from the start” is that selling books is a very hard business. Bookstores all over the country are going out of business at an alarming rate. As I type this, Borders is filing for bankruptcy protection and is closing 200 stores. Publishers around the country are struggling to make money. People in general are reading less. With all this bad news for writers, you can see what I mean when I say you are doomed from the start. But that doesn’t mean you will FAIL. It only means that selling your book will not be easy. I know first hand. But I also know first hand what worked and didn’t work for me. I’ve sold over 6000 paperback books, and hundreds of ebooks and have made my costs back five-fold. And that’s a fraction of what other self-publishers have sold. How did I do it? How did the other even more successful authors do it? We did it by pulling our heads out of the clouds and getting down to work.

So now for some things that worked for me. These ideas and actions will work wether you went the POD route, or now own a truckload of books. This blog post will start with the BEST thing you can do to give yourself a good chance of selling lots of books. Following posts will deal with other great ideas.

The very first thing you can do, and should have done, and can still do even if you didn’t, is make sure you book is as good as it can be. If your book is non-fiction, and 80 percent of all books are, then make sure you’ve written a clear, concise, well-organized book on a topic you are an expert in and on a topic that hasn’t been done to death. If you write fiction, make sure your book is more than just entertaining. It should be well-written and creative and dramatic, something that makes people want to turn the page. Of all the “things” your book can be, the most important and most overlooked thing it should be is exquisitely edited. This is true of both non-fiction and fiction books. Grammatical and spelling errors are far too abundant in POD and self-published books. Nothing will kill you chances of successfully selling your book more than poor editing, so do not skimp on this. Having a friend or family member read your manuscript is not good enough. Hire a professional editor. You can find them on-line but beware. My recommendation would be to hire the POD company you are using, or if you are self-publishing check out Bookmarket.com, a reputable site where you can find a listing of editors for hire. Editing includes not only grammar, punctuation and spelling. It also includes the layout of the text. The layout is how the book looks inside. Is the print large enough? Is the font clear? Are the margins the right size? These are important things, and you can learn more about them in any book on self-publishing.

Once your book is in print you may think it’s too late to go back and make sure your book is exquisitely edited, but it’s not. You can always go back and re-edit. If you are a POD author, it’s extremely easy to change what you’ve written. The POD company can easily change the computer file for your book even after people have started ordering it. There may be a fee for doing so, but it is worth paying for if it will make your book better. If you are self-published, you can make all the changes you want, you’ll just need to wait until your second print run to do so. Either way, it’s the best thing you can do if you haven’t properly edited in the first place. This is what happened to me. I rewrote and edited the first book in the Nomadin Trilogy half a dozen times, and then hired a professional editor. The book was very clean of typos, but even with all my efforts there were still mistakes that I needed to correct in the second printing. In fact, the first typo in the book was on the copyright page! So if you find mistakes in your book, even after you do all the right things, go easy on yourself. We’re only human!

The second thing you should do, and should have done, is make sure your book’s cover is top-notch, eye-catching and conveys the essence of your book. Book covers DO sell books. People DO judge books by their covers, at least until they start to read them. The cover is your billboard for your book. It must say, “Pick me up! Look at me! Wow! Look here!” A great book cover will sell more books than you think. You can find professional book cover illustrators on-line. Make sure you look at samples of their work. And get multiple quotes before you choose your cover artist. It’s true that you often get what you pay for, but it’s also true that you sometime pay more than you should. And never pay more than half the fee up front.

So now your book’s interior is top notch and its cover is brilliant! There’s more to be done. The fun is just beginning!

Keep writing!

Shawn P Cormier

Author of Nomadin

My website: www.pineviewpress.com

To Publish or Not To Publish – What’s the difference?

Google the term self-publishing and you’ll be inundated with ads from Print on Demand companies that promise to “publish” your book. In this case, the term “publish” is misleading, and in my opinion should not legally be allowed. The word “Publish” conjures images of companies like Viking, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster, Random House and the myriad other companies that will invest money in your book because they believe it will sell and make them, and you, money. These companies will make sure your book is properly edited, provided with a beautiful cover, professionally printed and bound, distributed to bookstores and promoted (sometimes at least). If they are really taken with your work they will arrange book-signings and interviews. They do these things because THEY are the ones fronting the money to publish your book. Print on Demand companies, on the other hand, do only one of those things. Can you guess which one it is? Bingo! They will print and bind your book for you. That’s it. Yes, I know they provide a cover but the cover they will provide will be anything but beautiful unless you hire someone to do it for you first. So if the only thing these Print on Demand companies do is print your book, then why do they get to freely use the term “publish”? In my opinion it’s misleading and criminal. It dupes too many writers into believing they will be “published” authors when they are nothing of the sort. They are “printed” authors, nothing more.

Now don’t get me wrong. Print on Demand is a valid and worthwhile avenue for many writers who either give up on seeking a real publisher for their work, or just decide to “do it themselves” and still want to get their book into print. For a nominal fee these Print on Demand companies will set your book up in their computer system and “print” one each time someone, including you, wants to buy one. The costs for this service will vary but should not be more than three to five hundred dollars. If they want more, choose another company from the long list of available companies out there. Also, be wary of extra services that you may not need, or may be able to do yourself for less money.

That said, every writer who seeks to “do it themselves” has a choice to make. Do you employ one of these Print on Demand companies, or do you Self-Publish? Wait! What do you mean? Aren’t Print on Demand and Self-Publishing the same thing? The answer is NO. Self-Publishing has that word “publishing” in it. That makes all the difference. When you Self-Publish you truly “publish” your book. You do everything that Viking, Scholastic and Random House do. You make sure your book is properly edited, provided with a beautiful cover, professionally printed and bound, distributed to bookstores and promoted (always if you want to succeed). If you are really taken with your own work you will arrange book-signings and interviews, too. Most importantly, YOU will be the one INVESTING in your book. That means you PAY FOR EVERYTHING. That also means YOU GET TO KEEP ALL THE  PROFITS. And finally, that also means YOU DO ALL THE WORK, and it is A LOT of work.

So how do you decide whether to go the Print on Demand route or the Self-Publishing route? Much of the answer to that question lies within you. Are you a hard worker? Do you have five thousand dollars to invest? Are you a self-promoter? Do you believe your book has mass-appeal? If you answered yes to all these questions you may be a candidate for Self-Publishing. If you answered no to one of these questions, then think twice. Self-Publishing is a big commitment. Print on Demand may be for you. Like I said, both are equally valid and worthwhile avenues to get your book in print and find a readership. There are some pros and cons, though.

For many, the biggest hurdle to Self-Publishing is the cost. Five thousand dollars will cover, editing, cover design, a print run of 1000 books, a pack of ten ISBN numbers and any incidentals you may encounter including storage of your books. Can you do it for less? Yes, you can. Maybe four thousand dollars will cover you. And if your book is short (100 pages or so) it will cost you even less. But it’s still more than Print on Demand. The next hurdle, and I think this should be considered more important than money, is the time and work involved. Finding and hiring printers, editors and cover designers is bad enough, but doing the leg work to acquire your ISBN numbers, bar-codes and distributors can be daunting.

Print on Demand begins to look pretty good after all that! But there are some cons to POD as well. The biggest con is the lack of interest on the part of bookstores to sell POD titles. Point blank, there’s no money to be made for bookstores. The cost of a POD book in relation to its retail price is too high for a bookstore to make any profit. When you self-publish your 300 page book you can expect your non-recurring costs (costs minus editing and cover) to be about $2.00 per book for a print run of 1000 books. Since you set the retail price, you can retail the book for $10.00 and make $8.00 per book if you sell them directly to readers. Nice! And if you sell them to bookstores you can still give them a 40 percent discount so they can make a profit and you’ll still make a profit yourself. Not so with POD books. POD books will often cost you too much money because they are printing them one at a time, not one thousand at a time. Also, the retail price of a POD book is usually set by the POD company and often times is far higher than a typical book of similar length and quality from a true publisher (like Viking, or yourself!)

Here I must warn you about a type of “publisher” call a vanity press. A vanity press is a company that for all intents and purposes looks just like a real publisher. Beware! Any company that calls itself a “publisher” and then asks you for money up front to “publish” your book should be avoided. Well, isn’t that what a POD company does? Yes. But a POD company will be upfront that they are only providing you with a “print on demand” contract. They will not make promises they cannot keep, such as getting your books stocked in bookstores. If you have to pay to get your book “published”, you are better off paying a POD company such as Ceatespace or IUniverse or Outskirts Press. It will cost you much less money and be much more effective.Besides, many vanity presses will insist on owning the ISBN numbers and even perhaps your copyright to your work, and this you should never surrender unless you sign with a “real” publisher such as Scholastic, Penguin, etc.  A POD company will never own your copyright. Enough said.

It’s a lot to think about, I know. What levels the playing field between self-publishing and POD is the time and cost of promoting your book. No matter which route you take, promoting your books will be up to you, and my next post will be all about promotion and selling. You can self-publish and fail to promote and waste all your money and time and sell very little, or you can use POD and promote your book properly and sell thousands of copies. Whatever route you take, your future will be in your hands!

Keep on writing!

Shawn P Cormier

Author of Nomadin

My Website: www.pineviewpress.com

There’s Hope for Us Yet!

So you’ve written the Great American Novel and dream about it gracing bookstore shelves across the country. You need a publisher. No problem. You slap down $20 and buy the 2011 Writer’s Market and do a little thumbing through the crisp, clean pages, quickly locating a suitable publisher in your genre. Of course, you start with the Majors. Why wouldn’t you? You make your list and query each publisher according to their guidelines. As you send off your carefully crafted pitch, you walk away from the mailbox with that crazy, expectant feeling rushing through your writer’s soul.

Eight weeks later you are rewarded for your efforts with a form rejection letter (often times no more than a sentence or two) photocopied so many times it’s faded at the edges. And these are from the conscientious publishers. You’ll still be getting form rejections for months to come from the others. (I once received a “no” eleven months later). Your dream is crushed, along with your spirits. Non-writers will never understand the emotions we suffer when rejected by a publisher or agent. It is profound. We spend years planning, writing, rewriting, work-shopping, dreaming, writing some more, often in solitude, only to be told it was ALL IN VAIN! It is absolutely devastating. Yes, deep down we always knew the odds of landing a publisher were slim. The numbers bear that out. A large publisher will receive several thousand queries a year and publish less than one percent of those. But we still can’t help feeling deflated. There is hope, though.

Some of us turn to self-publishing, and that’s what this Blog is all about. When I say self-publishing I will include the term Print on Demand as well. Self-publishing is when you become the Publisher and do what a Publisher does, namely hire and pay for the people and or companies that assist you in creating a proper cover, editing, binding, distributing, storing (your first print run of 500-1000 books will be delivered to your house by tractor-trailer truck) and marketing your book. Print on Demand services will do all that for you for a nominal fee and then print you one book at a time as people order them. There are many differences between self-publishing and Print on Demand (POD), many pros and cons to each, and I will touch on those along the way. Whether you Self-published or used a Print on Demand (POD) company to get your book “out there”, you still need to sell your book, and hopefull this Blog can help you do just that, and perhaps even help you land that Major Publisher for your work.

Now you may be wondering, like I was when I decided to self-publish, just how to go about getting your novel into book form with a cover, beautiful formatting, ISBN number and all the bells and whistles that make a professionally bound book. This Blog is NOT going to concern itself with those mechanics. Several great books have been published that will walk you through that process much better than I can. Go to Amazon and search for books on self-publishing. My favorite, and the one that helped me most was The Complete Guide to Self-publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross. In it you’ll find everything you need to know about doing it yourself. What this Blog WILL cover are the ups and downs of that process, the mistakes that I made along the way, what I found to be effective and what I learned to be a waste of time and money. Yes, I recommend reading SEVERAL books on self-publishing before you undertake the vastly rewarding and often humbling task of getting your book out there yourself. In fact, I think it’s a must. But before you start your journey, stop here and read one writer’s honest assessment of what worked and what didn’t. Hopefully it will save you some time, effort and money.

Some of the topics I will cover will include costs and proper retail pricing, marketing to bookstores, marketing directly to your readers, pros and cons of advertising, distributors, book signings, contests to boost sales, media coverage and how to get it, web marketing, family expectations, the stigma or self-publishing and much more. I hope you find the information interesting and informative.

Keep on writing!

Shawn P Cormier

Author of Nomadin

My website: www.pineviewpress.com